Step 5: Aerated Lagoons
From the constructed wetlands, the water is pumped into two highly oxygenated aerated lagoons of the Eco Machine™ at the OCSL. The aerated lagoons are divided into four cells, each 10 feet deep. At this stage, the water looks and smells clean, but it's not safe to touch. The plants, fungi, algae, snails, and other microorganisms of the aerated lagoons are busy converting ammonia into nitrates and toxins into harmless base elements.
There is no soil in the aerated lagoons at the OCSL, yet beautiful tropical plants thrive here. The plants live on metal racks and their roots extend up to five feet into the water. The roots of the plants act as a habitat for the organisms in the lagoon, and are sustained by them. The flowers of these tropical plants illustrate the beauty that naturally treated "wastewater" can yield. The blooms are abundant and are a source of flowers for Omega's classrooms.
We've learned many lessons from the aerated lagoons since we began operating the Eco Machine™ at the Omega Center for Sustainable Living in 2009. One important development was getting to know the microcommunity of bugs that needs to be in balance in the lagoons. We discovered how to identify and treat their overpopulation sustainably, so the aerated lagoons can work optimally.